All of us in the AEC industry are being challenged by the disruption this virus is causing, but we got this. Solving problems is what we do.
COVID-19 rips like a wildfire through our communities ruthlessly disrupting daily life as we know it. The virus arrived on our doorstep without an invitation, turning the world upside down in an instant.
We are Luchs Consulting Engineers/DeCarlo & Doll Architects. We are a 38-person civil engineering and architectural firm. We design horizontal and vertical infrastructure improvements that make our world safer, cleaner, and better connected. We are an integral part of the fabric of our modern society – the work we do supports economic growth and shapes our world for tomorrow.
We, too, are challenged by the disruption that this virus is causing. But we got this. Solving problems is what we do.
As a Connecticut small business, we are extremely sensitive to the impact COVID-19 is having on our employees and the clients we serve. This is our home. We live, work, and play in the communities being affected: our children attend neighborhood schools and local colleges; our friends own restaurants and other small businesses that are the backbone of our economy; our relatives, young and old, are anxious.
We are committed to keeping our staff, their families, and the communities we serve safe. But we also feel a strong obligation to keep Connecticut’s economy moving forward for the well-being of all its residents.
These are unprecedented times. But we are prepared. Over seven decades in business has taught us to expect the unexpected. We are agile and resourceful. We are adapting to the “new normal” by drawing upon our strengths and company values.
- Prioritizing people, not business. People are at the heart of everything we do. It is our relationships with those people that influence our success – whether it be our employees, our clients, or the various stakeholders we serve. Our priority is to keep them safe and thriving. For example, we are committed to accommodating remote work arrangements, maintaining full salaries, practicing effective social distancing, and supporting local businesses during these difficult times. At the end of the day, we need to do what we believe is right; our hope is that business will follow.
- Communicating. Communication is critical, even more so during this time of rapid change. Our eyes and ears are open to the needs of our employees, our colleagues, and our clients. We are listening and reading between the lines. Conscious of social distancing, we have replaced in-person meetings with phone calls, emails, and video conferencing. The collaboration has not stopped. We are utilizing interactive 3D technology to remotely engage team members and stakeholders to keep the design process going so construction projects can continue safely and seamlessly.
- Capitalizing on our assets. Being small and local is proving to be a tremendous advantage during these trying times. Our staff lives, works, and plays in Connecticut’s neighborhoods, so we are invested in the outcome of the work we do. We know what keeps our clients up at night – we work hard to preemptively eliminate their concerns and anxieties. We know that each community we work in has its own personality and preferred way of doing business. We know that because we pay attention. Even mega-projects benefit from a local, skilled consultant’s keen familiarity with a project area and its key stakeholders. During this disruption, we are staying engaged in local conversations through the help of our staff and business colleagues using modified, and often cutting edge, communication strategies.
- Being responsive and responsible. We recognize that we are part of a construction ecosystem that provides jobs and drives the economy. We help utility companies deliver water, electricity, and energy needed to keep people healthy and warm. That same infrastructure also keeps businesses humming. We cannot stand still and wait for the urgency to fade. We must be responsive in the face of the existing challenges. Responsiveness may mean altering our delivery method, adjusting our timeline, or meeting with stakeholders in a nontraditional format. It may also mean talking through alternative business development strategies with colleagues or doing some heavy lifting for a project partner who has been stressed by the current crisis. We appreciate the value of collaboration over competition more than ever right now. We also recognize that we have an obligation to our staff as well. They are the cogs of the wheel that propel our business forward. So, we are steadfast in our commitment to keeping our staff employed and working productively in this volatile business environment. Our current and future clients will likewise benefit from this commitment as the economy regains momentum.
- Demonstrating leadership. As John F. Kennedy said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” We are influencers on many levels. We are company owners, community business members, and citizens. We recognize that the consequences of this pandemic will be long and deep, affecting the emotional, social, and economic well-being of our communities for years to come. But we are keeping our spirits up. Levity and self-deprecating humor are finding their way into our conversations with increasing frequency. We are leading by example to instill a sense of confidence and optimism in these most desperate times because we know this, too, shall pass.
In the meantime, we wish all of you the best of health, safety, and financial security as we push through this difficult challenge together. We got this. And so do you.
Lynn DiGiovanni is business development coordinator at Luchs Consulting Engineers/DeCarlo & Doll Architects. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Click here to see the full issue of The Zweig Letter.